Palm Sunday: Make Israel Great Again

Glenn Siepert
Mar 25, 2018 · 6 min read

I guess I should introduce myself to people who are new here. If you’ve followed me here from my old blog at MorningEncouragement.com, welcome. And if you’re here because of the invite card I gave you on Palm Sunday or some other time, welcome. Or if you came here from searching Medium.com or Google or whatever …

Welcome.

Welcome.

Welcome!

My name is Glenn Siepert and I’m a husband, daddy, pastor, blogger, writer, aspiring theologian, doctoral student, and lots of other things who lives in Charlotte, NC and this Medium site is a temporary blog of sorts where I write a post or two a week about stories from the Bible and what they do and don’t have to do with life in 2018.

A lot of people have asked me what I do and what my goals are. That’s a big question with some vague answers, but as it stands my goal is to create an online environment that spills over into Charlotte and beyond where everyone is included, welcomed, and loved.

Regardless of …

Faith.

Background.

Culture.

Lifestyle.

Sex.

Race.

Etc.

… Everyone is welcome and loved without judgement.

For far too long we (the Church) have made God and the Bible inaccessible to the average person and it’s time for that to change. We use lofty words (like, “righteousness” and “atonement”), use insider language (“covered in the blood”), and make people feel as if they need to believe a certain way, speak our bizarre language, and adhere to an ancient creed or two that the average person can’t comprehend in order to be fully loved and embraced by their Creator.

Crazy talk.

God is for EVERYONE and the Bible, which is a compilation of ancient …

Texts.

And writings.

And stories.

Poems.

Genealogies.

Letters.

And prophecies.

And journal Entries.

… Has more to say to our lives in 2018 than we ever imagined.

Anyways.

Today is Palm Sunday and I wanted to share some thoughts with you about what this day meant some 2,000 years ago when Jesus rode into the outskirts of Jerusalem on a donkey to the roars and cheers of the excited, passionate, and angry crowd.

AND.

What it might mean for you and me today.

I say “might” mean for you and me today because although it certainly means something, it can also mean many things and sometimes when it comes to the Bible, finding those meanings requires thinking and wrestling. And discussion, too. So be sure to stop back this week to read some more thoughts revolving around Holy Week (Good Friday and Easter, in particular) and share your thoughts, too— I would love to hear them!

If you’re interested in reading it for yourself, you can find the story of Palm Sunday in the book of Mark chapter 11, but these next few paragraphs should bring you up to speed.

Mark opens the chapter by showing us a massive crowd of people who were cheering because Jesus was their supposed Messiah, the One they thought would restore Jerusalem, the Temple, and the Nation of Israel back to a place of world dominance.

That’s what everyone was waiting for: the Messiah to come riding into Jerusalem with a sword in His hand and ready and able to build an army of followers that would rise up and overthrow the Machine the Roman Empire, which forever had its mighty boot pressed hard against the throats of the people of Israel.

War.

Bloodshed.

Revenge.

… At any cost, whatever it takes, no matter what needs to happen — “Make Israel Great Again”, that was the motto — make it great like it was in the Old Testament days of King David, Israel’s greatest and most powerful King.

“Things were so much better back then!”

“We have to get back to the way things were!”

“We’ve fallen so far from glory!”

“Surely, God is answering our prayers in this Great Leader!”

(Sound familiar?)

With that in mind, as Jesus rode through the screaming and excited crowds on His donkey, Mark says that the people shouted …

“Blessed is the One who comes in the Name of the Lord!”

AND.

“Blessed is the coming Kingdom of our Father, David.”

King David was a killing machine. It started the day he killed Goliath and chopped off his head for the world to see and continued with his army slaughtering hundreds and thousands of people in the Name of the Lord. He shed so much blood, in fact, that in 1 Chronicles 22:8 God disqualified him from building the first Temple …

“You have shed much blood and have fought many wars. You are not to build a house for my Name because you have shed much blood on earth in my sight.”

This is who the people thought Jesus, the Messiah, would be like — a killing machine.

They thought He would be another King David, but only greater … David 2.0. And so as He headed towards Jerusalem on His donkey, excitement was building. This detail that He rode to the city on a donkey, mind you, is key because it’s a picture that was originally painted by the prophet Zechariah hundreds of years earlier when he said that the Messiah would come “meek, riding upon an ass.” (Zechariah 9:9)

“This must be Him”, everyone thought.

“This must be the Messiah — He’s riding on a donkey!”

“Yes! And He’s headed for Jerusalem!”

“This is it!”

“Let’s throw a parade!”

“Let’s usher Him in!”

“Rome is about to get theirs!”

“Israel back on top!”

“All hail the King!”

Everybody grabbed their bright red “Make Israel Great Again” hats, threw them on their heads, and laid palm branches on the road that led to Jerusalem so that He could make the grandest of grand entries.

Everything, you could say, seemed to be going according to plan except that when Jesus’ donkey arrived at Jerusalem, Mark tells us that …

“Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the Temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, He went out to Bethany with the disciples.”

How anti-climatic and disappointing (for the crowd), right? They threw Jesus a parade, got him a motorcade to the city, and instead of waltzing in and building His army …

He walks in to the Temple.

Takes a look around.

And leaves!

The next day Mark says that He came back to the Temple and threw a fit, throwing out people who were buying and selling and making money. The Temple was supposed to be an inclusive place where all kinds of people were brought in and loved and shown grace and mercy and instead it became an exclusive place that took advantage of people, stole their money, and sent them away hungrier than when they came.

This made Him angry.

And so He flipped over some tables.

Said some words.

And threw everybody out.

Monday, then, led to Tuesday and Wednesday, which led to the Last Supper on Thursday, and His crucifixion on Friday. Check back here throughout the week for some more Holy Week thoughts, but what I want to leave you with on this Palm Sunday is this:

The crowd expected Jesus to ride in on His donkey, build up His army, and fight back — get revenge, destroy Rome, and put Israel back on top just as it was in the days of King David.

“Make Israel Great Again.”

Instead, Jesus road in on His donkey, walked out of the city, and came back the next day to cleanse the Temple and remind Israel that her calling was never to be the best and the biggest and the greatest, but to be a blessing to everyone, everywhere. THIS was her initial calling all the way back in the book of Genesis where God spoke to Abram (the Father of Israel) and told him that he would be blessed so that his descendants (the Nation of Israel) could be a blessing to all the other nations.

At the hands of the Temple leaders, though, the people of Israel had lost sight of this and so Jesus waltzed into the Temple not to put Israel back on top, but to flip over some tables and remind Israel of who she really was.

And so I wonder, have we forgotten our calling?

That’s what I’m pondering this Palm Sunday. As we make way for the King this Easter 2018, do we have a mindset of trying to make our lives greater, our country greater, our family greater, our wallets and bank accounts greater OR do we have the focus of following the One who calls us to be a blessing to others, to everyone … everywhere?

… Because that, mind you, is why we’re here.

You.

Me.

Everyone.

Grace and Peace.

- Glenn

Glenn Siepert

Written by

Trying to follow Jesus. Husband. Daddy. Doctoral Student. Writer. Aspiring Theologian. Pastor. Friend.